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Guest Blog (Dr. John Schumann): 'Help Wanted' for Medicaid expansion

by | July 30th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (3)

John Henning Schumann is a writer and doctor in Tulsa. He runs the Internal Medicine residency at the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine. He created the blog GlassHospital.com and is on Twitter @GlassHospital.

Despite its complexities and its politics, I support the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”).  As I’ve written elsewhere, I think it would be both morally and economically wrong for Governor Fallin and the Oklahoma legislature to opt out of the ACA’s vast Medicaid expansion – a position shared by Oklahoma Policy Institute.  So if Oklahoma does the right thing and opts to expand Medicaid for adults with incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level, what will happen?

Oklahoma faces a serious shortage of primary care access. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the agency in charge of administering Medicaid, recently compiled county-by-county maps, color-coded to classify areas of severe physician shortage based on presumptive levels of Medicaid expansion.  At a glance, these maps reveal something we already know: rural areas are hurting for physicians and populous counties seem to have more capacity.  In my opinion, however, the maps don’t paint a full picture of the eventual shortfall.

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In The Know: State Medical Examiner shipping bodies from Tulsa to OKC because of backlog

by | July 30th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (1)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that bodies of people who die in fatal accidents, crimes and suicides in Tulsa and eastern Oklahoma are being transported to Oklahoma City for autopsies and viewing because of a doctor shortage at the state Medical Examiner’s Office. NewsOK reports that school consolidation can lead to longer bus routes with longer days for schoolchildren and thousands of dollars in added fuel and insurance costs for districts. NewsOK also examined historical reasons for Oklahoma’s high number of school districts.

Oklahoma was ranked as the worst state in the nation for the prevalence of predatory payday loans. Since August 2011, federal officials have closed 14 Oklahoma immigration cases using prosecutorial discretion in order to focus enforcement efforts on dangerous individuals. Sen. Constance Johnson continues to push for medical marijuana in Oklahoma. She has introduced a medicinal marijuana bill every year since she was first elected in 2005, but has yet to receive a hearing in committee.

Lobbyists increased gift-giving to lawmakers for the third straight year. House Speaker Kris Steele announced the creation of another panel to take a look at tax credits and economic incentives. Public petitions to audit local governments in Oklahoma are being increasingly used  to address the concerns of residents. The number City of Tulsa workers injured on the job is more than three times the national average for local government employees.

The Washington Post reports on resistance to the individual mandate for health insurance in Oklahoma. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt asked a federal judge to lift a stay on his lawsuit challenging the new health care law, despite the Supreme Court ruling that it is constitutional. An Oklahoma drug rehab facility operated by the church of Scientology is being investigated for multiple deaths.

In today’s Policy Note, the National Review discusses how conservatives are beginning to backtrack on long prison sentences for drug offenses. The Number of the Day is how many Oklahomans live in “food deserts,” or areas with limited access to a full-size supermarket or grocery store.

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The Weekly Wonk: July 27, 2012

by | July 27th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk is dedicated to this week’s events, publications, and blog posts.

This week Oklahoma Policy Institute wrote about five aspects of the state’s social, economic, and political landscape that explain poverty’s persistence.  We reported on a new poll of 40 of America’s foremost economic experts; not a single one was in agreement with the assertion that tax cuts foster enough economic growth to pay for themselves.

We blogged about Oklahoma’s work-sharing program, which includes an unprecedented and needlessly restrictive condition that keeps it from being useful to any employers.  We also posted about an upcoming event, the 45th Annual Oklahoma Career and Technology Education Conference.

David Blatt wrote in the Journal Record that Oklahoma is a poor state no longer, and it’s time to translate that newfound prosperity into enhanced personal and social well being.

In The Know, Policy Notes

Numbers of the Day

  • 63.2 percent – Percentage of Oklahoma high school students who do not attend a physical education class during an average week of school, compared to 48.2 percent nationally, 2011
  • 1 in 2 – Unplanned pregnancies in Oklahoma occurred while partners were using contraception, 2008
  • 15, 228 – The number of new businesses created each year in Oklahoma on average, compared to 14,847 businesses that close their doors, 2000-2010
  • 277,891 – Number of households with children (≤18) in Oklahoma with a mother who also works outside the home, nearly 2/3rds of all such households in the state, 2010
  • 86 percent – Percentage of the total number of persons sent to prison for a crack cocaine offense in Oklahoma that were people of color, 2007-2011

In The Know: Statewide test scores showed improvement

by | July 27th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs.  Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Statewide achievement test scores for public school students showed improvement.  The State Department of Education has been criticized for withholding a record amount of state aid, mostly for virtual and charter schools.  The Oklahoman wrote about the growing momentum behind efforts to enforce sales tax collection from online retailers.

David Blatt wrote in The Journal Record that Oklahoma is a poor state no longer, and it’s time to translate that newfound prosperity into enhanced personal and social well being.  Firefighters in southwestern Oklahoma have successfully contained a wildfire.  A drought covering two-thirds of the continental U.S. has rapidly increased in intensity.

The Tulsa World considered the Governor’s recent statements about state implementation of the new federal health care law.  In today’s Policy Note, the New England Journal of Medicine found that previous rounds of state Medicaid expansion resulted in fewer deaths.  The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahoma high school students who do not attend a physical education class during an average week of school.

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Upcoming Event: 45th Oklahoma Career and Technology Education Conference, Aug 2-3

by | July 26th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Upcoming Events | Comments (0)

The 45th Annual Oklahoma Career and Technology Education Summer Conference is scheduled for August 2-3, 2012 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.  The CareerTech Expo, held in conjunction with the conference, features over 150 exhibitors showcasing the latest developments in career and technology education.

The conference provides teachers, counselors, administrators, employers, tradespeople, and state agency staff with innovative technical and instructional skills and the opportunity to network with and learn from others throughout the state.  Sessions will cover a variety of wide-ranging topics, including: technology in the classroom, how the digital age has transformed students’ learning and interacting styles, the state’s common core standards, the Teacher Leader Effectiveness (TLE) evaluation model, minorities in the career tech field, and more.

Click here for registration information and click here for conference programs and agendas by area of interest.

In The Know: DHS child welfare reform plan approved

by | July 26th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Three out-of-state experts approved the so-called ‘Pinnacle Plan,’ proposed by OKDHS to reform the state’s child welfare system.  A State House panel will once again take up the issue of tax credits.  An OK Policy issue brief explained the critical importance of certain credits in supporting working families and children.  Business owners told legislators at a regional summit in Enid that the biggest barrier to growth in the northwest was workforce development – there aren’t enough qualified workers to fill open slots in the industrial and manufacturing sector.

An Edmond man suffered burns after two men scrawled a gay slur on the trunk of his car and then set it on fire.  The Enid News and Eagle urged leaders to stop delaying a decision on whether to close a state run facility for the developmentally disabled in Pauls Valley.  Oklahoma and 20 other states pressed U.S. auto manufacturers to produce more compressed natural gas vehicles.

OK Policy listed five aspects of Oklahoma’s social, economic, and political landscape that explain the persistence of poverty.  Some lawyers in the state have fallen victim to a new version of the ‘Nigerian scam,’ through letters claiming a referral from the Oklahoma Bar Association.  Gun sales have surged in the last few months.  Public schools in Oklahoma City and Tulsa are coping with a growing population of homeless students.

The Number of the Day is the incidence of unplanned pregnancies in Oklahoma among partners using contraception.  In today’s Policy Note, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book for Oklahoma, with 16 different indicators to measure the status of children in four key domains: economic well-being, education, family and community, and health.

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Five reasons poverty persists in Oklahoma

by | July 25th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Poverty | Comments (11)

Oklahoma children 1936, Dorothea Lange

Poverty has been a part of Oklahoma’s landscape since before statehood.  Early settlers faced enormous odds – drought, food insecurity, and nonexistent infrastructure – and possessed few material resources.  During the Great Depression, the state lost nearly half a million residents to out-migration induced by devastating poverty and famine.

Today, one in six Oklahomans (or 16.9 percent) live in poverty and nearly a third of the state’s counties have a poverty rate of 20 percent or more. Even amidst rising tides of economic prosperity, poverty continues, from one generation to the next.

The reasons are varied and complex, but stem from the material effects of poverty’s central feature – difficulty meeting basic human needs.  Here are five aspects of Oklahoma’s social, economic, and political landscape that explain poverty’s persistence.

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In The Know: Governor to delay decision on Medicaid till after November election

by | July 25th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Gov. Fallin said she would likely delay a decision on whether the state should accept federal funding to expand Medicaid until after the November election.  Most indicators of child well being in Oklahoma showed improvement over last year, but the number of children living in poverty and in families without secure employment is on the rise.  OK Policy previously reported on the state’s inadequate safety net, which provides no support to most of Oklahoma’s poorest families.

The Commission for Human Services voted to increase pay for foster parents and child welfare workers.  The Commission also heard yesterday from both sides of the debate over a plan to close a state-run facility for the developmentally disabled in Pauls Valley.  The Oklahoma Energy Resources Board is promoting an oil and gas curricula to teachers.  Community leaders and civil servants reflected on the legacy of late Senator Gene Stipe.

A drug rehab center in Pittsburg County is under investigation after a third patient died in nine months.  The OK Policy Blog discussed a new survey of top economists; not a single one agreed that tax cuts generated enough growth to pay for themselves.  Former Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan has asked a federal judge to grant him a new trial on a bribery conviction.

In today’s Policy Note, Stateline reported on a global survey of the best places to do business in oil and gas; Oklahoma ranked in the top 10 out of 147 jurisdictions worldwide for having the fewest barriers to investment – low tax rates and a loose regulatory regime.  The Number of the Day is the number of new businesses created each year in Oklahoma on average.

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That's a Laffer! Top economists unanimously reject that tax cuts will yield higher revenue

by | July 24th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (0)

Arthur Laffer

Would an income tax cut foster so much economic growth that tax revenues would actually go up? In other words, can tax cuts pay for themselves?  A new poll of 40 of America’s foremost economic experts was unable to find a single one in agreement with the assertion.

The idea that tax cuts pay for themselves, closely associated with economist Arthur Laffer and ‘supply-side economics’,  is an article of faith that has been promoted by tax cut proponents for over four decades.  It was a central idea in the report prepared by Laffer and his associates for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs that formed the basis for tax cut proposals promoted legislators and by Governor Fallin. Laffer’s report selected recent tax collection data to assert that “Oklahoma has demonstrated the dynamic effect of tax cuts” because tax revenues rose following passage of tax cuts in the mid-2000s. The report also stated that the economic growth from eliminating Oklahoma’s income tax “would reduce the static revenue loss of the arithmetic effect, although not completely”.

The idea that tax cut pay for themselves has been widely debunked by economists, including by three leading economic advisers to recent Republican Presidents, Martin Feldstein, Glenn Hubbard and Gregory Mankiw. We explained the fundamental flaws in Laffer’s use of Oklahoma tax data and several Oklahoma economists, along with the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, identified methodological problems with their projection of the economic impact of their income tax proposal.

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In The Know: Doctor, two others at medical examiner’s office fired after investigation

by | July 24th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

A doctor and two supervisors at the Oklahoma medical examiner’s office have been fired. State employee payroll has fallen by more than $94M in the last two years.  OK Policy previously blogged about the shrinking state workforce.  The Tahlequah Daily Press interviewed doctors, legislators, and experts about the Affordable Care Act and what Medicaid expansion could mean for Oklahoma.

The National Weather Service reported record-breaking temperatures across Oklahoma and parts of the state are experiencing extreme drought.  The panel that oversees the Department of Human Services will discuss the possibility of closing a facility for the developmentally disabled in Pauls Valley.

Applicants face excessive wait times because of too few examiners at DPS to issue driver’s license exams.  A jury convicted an Oklahoma State University basketball player of sexually assaulting two women at a party.

The Number of the Day is the number of households with children (≤18) in Oklahoma with a mother who also works outside the home.  In today’s Policy Note, Economic Policy Institute marked the one-year anniversary of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with a look at the bureau’s recent enforcement actions and publications.

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